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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Freshman walk-on fulfills Hoosier dreams

Not many basketball players who average 13 points per game in high school get the chance to play Division I college basketball. Even fewer get a shot in the Big Ten.\nRyan Tapak's case is unusual, and he's the first to admit it.\n"There's not too many guys 6-foot, 160 who can come in and play," Tapak, a freshman walk-on, said. "Coach Davis gave me a shot, and I owe the world to him. Hopefully, I left a good reputation with him."\nThe closest Tapak came to IU basketball last season was occasionally playing in front of coach Mike Davis. Tapak and Davis' son, Mike Davis Jr., teamed up for Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis, and Davis often came to watch his son.\nLess than a year later, Tapak found himself on the Assembly Hall floor as a full-fledged member of men's basketball program, a place he never dreamed he'd be. \n"Never in a million dreams," Tapak said. \nTapak convinced Davis to give him a shot to walk on, worked with assistant coaches John Treloar and Ben McDonald and beat out two competitors for the final spot on the Hoosiers' roster.\nTapak, who is listed at 190 pounds, looks more like the 160 he alluded to. But the Hoosiers' shortest player might be one of the sqauds' best shooters. Tapak knocked down 11 three-pointers in the first round of the three-point competition early Saturday morning at IU's Midnight Madness, then came back to sink eight more in the second round, topping junior guard Tom Coverdale, who hit five. \nTapak finished off his Hoosier debut by catching fire in the final round against Jill Hartman of the women's team. Tapak's last-second shot sailed through the net as time expired, giving the unlikely winner the victory. \n"(If I wasn't on the team), I'd probably be over at the HPER," Tapak said, adding that he would have come to IU even if he didn't have the chance to play basketball. \nTapak said he hasn't had much contact with Davis, who was been on recruiting trips when Tapak was working out, but has his long-term goals figured out. As for his role on this year's team, Tapak said he's not sure what he'll do.\n"A lot of schools have little shooters," Tapak said. "Every team needs them."\nBULKING UP\nSenior forward Jarrad Odle and sophomore center George Leach both looked noticeably bigger Saturday at Midnight Madness. Both indicated they've spent time in the weight room adding muscle mass. \nThus far, their iron-pumping efforts have paid off. \nLeach and Odle both paced their respective offenses in the 10-minute scrimmage, as Leach led all scorers with 14 points for the white team. Odle chipped in with eight for the red squad.\nLeach has put on 20 pounds and is listed at 225 pounds. Odle has gained 10 pounds and is listed at 220. But Davis seemed more pleased with Leach's footspeed and work ethic than with the wider bodies.\n"I'm going to have to play George this year," Davis said. "Hopefully, I can play him a whole lot. He ran the floor a couple times and made a couple good moves."\nEXPECTING ME TO SHOOT?\nSenior guard Dane Fife admitted before Saturday that he couldn't get rim, so he wouldn't take part in the dunk contest at Midnight Madness. But Fife joked that he could get rim by shooting three-pointers, something some people have said the 6'4" defensive stopper will do more of this season. \nFife isn't so sure. \n"We've said that (I'll shoot more) since I came here," Fife said. "It's just a mind-set that I have to get in my head that I can score and I can play with these guys. I know I can."\nFife averaged a career-high 5.1 points per game last season and fired several shots during Saturday morning's scrimmage. Fife scored nearly 26 points per game as a senior at Clarkston (Mich.) High School. \nWith Kirk Haston gone, Fife said he realizes he must produce some offense. Or else. \n"We have (sophomore Jared Jeffries) and Coverdale returning, and that's the bulk of our scoring, so somebody has to step up and score," Fife said. "Teams are always going to have scorers, but I think they're going to look to me to score more, or I won't be on the floor."\nHEADED TO UK\nWabash Valley College guard Antwain Barbour, who visited IU late last month, decided last week to play next season at Kentucky. The 6'5" Barbour limited his choices to UK, IU, UNLV and Cincinnati before making his final decision. Barbour was originally recruited by Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith, but grades forced him to attend junior college. \nIU has two recruits committed for next season: 6'4" Bracey Wright from The Colony, Texas, and 6'1" Marshall Stickland from Sykesville, Md.

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